It was one of the most important days for the ongoing development of Irish rugby but it was not the Heineken Cup final or the Magners League grand final.
The annual IRFU Technical Conference is not something you will read about in the media, but it is one of those key events in the rugby calendar that drives the ongoing development of the game and the people who run it.
What makes Irish rugby work? How did we win the Heineken Cup and Magners League this season?
Where did those young players come from? How are we developing the game at every level?
The IRFU Technical Conference is one of those key ‘behind the scenes’ elements that contribute to the vitality of the game in Ireland.
Over 60 IRFU technical staff took part in the annual Technical Conference in Enfield last week.
Development officers and managers from the four provinces, including community development, coach development and elite player development staff.
These are the men and women working with elite professional players, the academies that are producing the next generation, the clubs and schools that are the lifeblood of the game.
Stephen Aboud, IRFU Technical Manager, drove the conference with the assistance of Allen Clarke, High Performance Manager and Colin Moran, IRFU Training Manager. Aboud outlined the aims of the Technical conference:
• Re-enforcement of the Technical Model (which was launched last May)
• The opportunity for staff from the four provinces to meet and share ideas
• Provide information on technical initiatives, elite player pathways and coach development programmes
Presentations were undertaken across a wide variety of topics including ‘Cognitive skills and collective skills development’ – Stephen Aboud, ‘Effective coaching and coaching update’ – Colin Moran, ‘Elite player pathway initiatives’ – Allen Clarke, ‘Performance Analysis – Vinny Hammond, High Performance Analyst, ‘Developing the ‘Axis group’ in general movement’ – Colin McEntee, Leinster Academy Manager.
There were also practical workshops including one from former Leinster and Ireland full-back Girvan Dempsey on ‘Kicking From the Hand’.
Former Ulster and Ireland hooker and current High Performance Manager Allen Clarke held a session on ‘Lineout Throwing’, while Aboud also gave a practical session on ‘Scrum Half Passing’.
John O’Neill and Keith Murphy also shared some recent initiatives with the Munster Under-17 and Under-18 squads.
Ultan O’Callaghan, Domestic Rugby Manager in Munster, said: “This conference is all about improving the quality of the people and the product.
“From the clubs and schools’ perspective, we are always striving to provide quality initiatives to improve the game at grassroots level.”
Commenting on the two-day conference, Aboud explained: “This is part of the ongoing Technical Direction to provide opportunities to improve our development staff and ultimately provide a greater quality service through all our rugby programmes.”
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